News Roundup for May 17, 2018

May 17, 2018

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J Street in the News

In New Letter, Senators Urge Trump Administration Action to Alleviate Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza, J Street

“J Street welcomes an important new letter to the Trump administration, signed by thirteen US Senators, calling for immediate steps by the US government to help alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The letter, addressed to the Secretary of State, makes clear that the terrible deprivation in Gaza, where most residents lack power, clean water, adequate medical care and many other basic necessities, constitutes a humanitarian and security disaster….The crisis in Gaza calls for steps to break the disastrous status quo and cycle of violence. Instead of standing idly by while casualties in Gaza mount and the situation worsens, the US government should be taking bold action to provide humanitarian relief to those in need — and strongly encouraging Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to do the same.”

After Agony-Ecstasy Week, Concern Over Trump Peace Plan, NY Jewish Week

“A spokesman for J Street, Logan Bayroff, said the group believes the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem ‘has completely alienated the Palestinian leadership by unilaterally adopting the position of Prime Minister Netanyahu.’ The action, he said, indicates that ‘the Trump administration is not seriously interested in reaching a two-state solution or putting forth proposals about how to get to a two-state solution. Any plan that does not include the creation of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital living alongside Israel in peace and security as its final goal has no chance of generating meaningful progress.’”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu Needs Conflict to Survive, Foreign Policy

Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “It’s too simplistic to say Israelis are distracted by terrorism and escalation away from Netanyahu’s corruption cases. Rather, Netanyahu’s military and diplomatic victories complement and thus burnish his image in domestic politics. Israelis regularly say, sighing, ‘There’s nobody else.’ They mean that on the domestic as well as international scene….The result of strongman leadership is that people become much less enthusiastic for the foundations of democracy, favoring splashy personal achievements or controversy instead. And the irony of consolidating power is that it harms democracy but simultaneously generates an environment in which one person gets credit for everything going well, reinforcing support for that same leader.”

Hamas has launched another war. Israel needs a better response., Washington Post

The Washington Post Editorial Board argues, “The question for Israelis is why their government, with weeks of warning about what Hamas would attempt, did not develop a strategy to defeat the operation by minimizing the loss of life. Clearly the government must defend its borders; if it had allowed thousands of Palestinians to pour across toward nearby Israeli communities, the bloodshed could have been much greater. But it seems likely such a breach could have been stopped without such extensive use of lethal force. That impression is only strengthened by the stridency with which senior Israeli officials defended the killings and even called for more. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday proposed the assassination of Hamas’s leaders.”

Dianne Feinstein blasts Nikki Haley for stopping UN Gaza query, JTA

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D- Calif., said she was ‘deeply disappointed’ in Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for stopping the U.N. Security Council from investigating Israeli actions on the border with the Gaza Strip. ‘I’m deeply disappointed in Ambassador Haley’s decision to block a U.N. inquiry into yesterday’s events,’ Feinstein, who is Jewish, said Tuesday in a statement. ‘Without question there should be an independent investigation when the lives of so many are lost.’”

Israel Attacks Hamas Posts in Gaza Overnight After Machine Gun Fire Hits Israeli House, Haaretz

“The Israeli army attacked Hamas military compounds in the northern Gaza Strip overnight on Wednesday, according to the IDF spokesperson’s unit. Four different targets were attacked, including buildings, infrastructure, and a weapons production facility. The strikes come after shots were fired from Gaza toward homes in the southern Israel city of Sderot. None were wounded but machine gun fire caused propety damage, according to the Israeli military.”


IDF Spokesperson Tells U.S. Jews: Israel Failed to Minimize Gaza Casualties, Hamas Won PR War by Knockout, Haaretz

A senior Israeli army spokesman admitted Tuesday that Israel failed to minimize the number of Palestinian casualties during the recent deadly protests on the Gaza border, and that some were hit by mistake. He added that Hamas won the PR war by a “knockout.”

Israel-Turkey spat escalates over Gaza violence, Washington Post

Israel and Turkey exchanged diplomatic barbs Wednesday as the spat between the former allies escalated following deadly violence along Israel’s border with Gaza. A day after it expelled the Israeli ambassador, Turkey asked Israel’s consul general in Istanbul to leave as well. Israel, in turn, summoned a top Turkish diplomat to be reprimanded for the humiliation of Israel’s ambassador as he was kicked out of the country.

US envoy Jason Greenblatt meets with Qatari FM to discuss Gaza relief, Times of Israel

US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt met Wednesday in Qatar with its foreign minister to discuss relief for Gaza, a notable meeting with one of Hamas’ only allies at a time when the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel is engulfed in violence.

Following Egyptian Intervention, Israel Expects a Quiet Friday on Gaza Border, Haaretz

“Defense officials believe Hamas does not want to renew violent clashes and is considering how to continue the fence protests. Senior Southern Command officers held talks with the heads of the Gaza-area communities, and made it clear that it believes the events along the border are over, with Hamas showing signs of trying to restore quiet….The demonstrations’ intensity decreased following the mediation of Egypt and apparently of Qatar, whose intermediaries relayed messages between Israel and Hamas.”

Palestinians blast Guatemala over Jerusalem embassy opening, Times of Israel The Palestinians castigated Guatemala over the opening of its Jerusalem embassy earlier Wednesday, accusing the Central American nation of violating international law and using Christianity to justify the move.

Palestinians Recall Envoys to EU Countries Who Attended U.S. Embassy Gala in Jerusalem, Haaretz

The Palestinian Authority recalled on Wednesday its envoys to the four European countries who participated in a gala celebrating the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem Sunday. The Palestinian envoys to Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania were called for hearings on the support their countries showed for the embassy’s move, which the Palestinian Authority strongly opposes.

Opinions and Analysis

Editorial: Trump’s pointless Mideast provocation, San Francisco Chronicle

“The Trump administration has exported its politics of provocation to the last place that needs it, the Middle East. The all too predictable immediate result has been carnage. The long-term consequences are likely to be worse….Kushner and others defending the president argued that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital simply acknowledges the truth. But the truth is that ignoring the much more complicated reality of the city and Israel — as well as the need for two states, a Jewish and a Palestinian one — will only ensure that the conflict endures.”

The Bloodstained First Act of the Trump Intifada, Haaretz

David Rothkopf writes, “One thing that the career of Donald Trump has taught us is that if you take a lousy product – be it a casino, mail-order steaks, or a bogus university – and put the Trump name on it, it is still going to fail. This is also true of bad foreign policy initiatives. This has never been clearer than with the recent Trumpification of U.S. foreign policy toward Israel. We have seen the tell-tale signs of past efforts – the hoopla, the Twitter hype, the parties, the ribbon-cutting ceremonies featuring his daughter, America’s spokesmodel, Ivanka Trump, and even the Trump name carved in big letters in stone. In this case, they have all been linked to the opening this week of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.”

Trump’s Jerusalem Horror Show, NY Magazine

Frank Rich observes, “Yes, Trump was sending a message with the horror show he orchestrated in Jerusalem. But the message had nothing to do with his administration’s purported goal of seeking peace in the Middle East — a cause that has been set back indefinitely by his provocative relocation of the American embassy. Trump’s message, per usual, was for his own selfish political aims. It was targeted at his base, whose most loyal members are right-wing Evangelicals.”

As a proud Israeli I want peace. Killing Gazans won’t bring that, Guardian

Maya Ilany writes, “Commentators have again reached for the word ‘tragedy’ to describe Monday’s clash at the Gaza border fence, which resulted in the highest death toll in a single day since the end of the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. But ‘tragedy’ is the wrong word. Tragedies are inevitable catastrophes, like natural disasters; and it was not inevitable that more than 50 people had to die on Monday. The word signifies a wider problem: by repeatedly asserting that nothing can be done to change things for the better, we are allowing the next round of violence and bloodshed to take place.”

Israeli bill threatens courts’ ability to protect minority rights, Al-Monitor

Yossi Beilin writes, “The Knesset is Israel’s single legislative chamber; it does not have a ‘second chamber’ or Senate that could oversee laws passed in the house of representatives. The only element checking its legislation and preventing heavy-handed and damaging legislation is the judiciary….Removing the Israeli judiciary’s authority to nullify laws of the Knesset (something it does rarely) would leave Israeli citizens entirely exposed to decisions that could stem from momentary political needs and deprive them of their domain of freedom, without which democracy remains so only on paper.”

Companies Face A Tough Choice After Trump Pulls Out Of Iran Nuclear Deal, NPR

“The 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was heralded as the reopening of the country’s battered economy, and big foreign companies such as Airbus, Siemens and Samsung rushed to take advantage of the opportunity. Now that President Trump has effectively closed the door again, those same companies have to choose between remaining in Iran and staying on the good side of the U.S. government.”

The Two-Way Street, J Street Blog

Rabbis Burton L. Visotzky and Joel Shaiman write, “As we approach Shavuot, we in the Diaspora ponder anew our connection to Israel. And we take our inspiration from Sinai and from Ezekiel and so many others who spoke and continue to speak God’s word to us, that the voice IN the Diaspora makes the voice OF the Diaspora one that all Jews must heed if we wish the Divine Presence to continue to shine, both al kol Yisrael (upon all Israel) v’al kol yoshvei tevel (and upon all who dwell on earth). Like our teacher Rav Nahman bar Hisda, we will continue to stir up controversy in the name of Heaven.”